So now we've gotten our first official look at the trailer for next year's [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409), and it's a doozy. Let's watch it again, just for fun:
When the trailer dropped last month it caused a bit of a stir, largely because the main focus of the upcoming film looks set to focus on the relationship between Captain America / Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and the Winter Soldier / Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) rather the falling out between Cap and Iron Man / Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) as we had expected.
It's a good move from directors Anthony and Joe Russo; it gives Civil War a strong lead on from last year's [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](tag:254973) rather than trying to shoehorn in a lot of comic book mythology from the build up to the Civil War comic book event. It also firmly cements Civil War as a Captain America film, not an [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) follow on.
It also explains why a certain character popped up on the cast list earlier this year, a character that no one's really been talking all that much about. A character who goes by the name of...
General Vasily Karpov
Vasily Karpov was a minor character in the Marvel comics, and now he's set to be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe portrayed by Russian/American video game voice-actor Gene Farber (who also appeared in X-Men: First Class as a minor character, so this isn't his first outing with Marvel characters).
First appearing in Captain America Vol 5. which ran in the mid-2000s, Karpov was introduced as a Soviet Russian officer who, alongside Captain America and a pre-Winter Soldier Bucky Barnes, is involved in a joint American-Soviet operation to overthrow a base of Hitler-protégé Red Skull (Johann Shmidt) during World War II. It was this American-Soviet assault on the Red Skull's base that sets the backstory for how this all connects to next year's Civil War.
During the operation Captain America managed to seriously outperform the rest of the soldiers (as he does), including General Karpov. This may all sound very well and good but Karpov is a proud dude who believed Captain America undermined him in front of his men, causing him embarrassment. This left him with bit of a grudge against Cap, a grudge that would come to fruition not long afterwards when Karpov found an opportunity to get his own back...
The Winter Soldier
Karpov is closely affiliated not just with the KGB but also with the Soviet agency Department X. Department X might not sound familiar if you haven't read the comic books, but they're very important when it comes to the character of one Bucky Barnes - Steve Rogers's closest friend and ally.
In the MCU Bucky is "killed" during Captain America: The First Avenger when he falls from the train whilst in pursuit of Dr. Arnim Zola. In the comic books Cap and Bucky are sent after Baron Zemo (who'll also be showing up in Civil War played by Daniel Brühl) to stop a bomb threat. Whilst flying over the Atlantic Ocean in an experimental drone the bomb detonated, dropping the two of them into the sea. Cap ends up frozen in ice, whilst Bucky is presumably killed (due to not being a super soldier and all).
At this juncture he's back and kicking in the MCU though, in the form of the HYDRA brainwashed Winter Soldier. And thanks to the Civil War trailer we know that he's regained at least parts of his memory now, and is a wanted man.
So How Does This Connect To Karpov?
Well it was Department X and General Vasily Karpov who found Bucky floating in the Atlantic in the first place, and it was Karpov who decided to revive and brainwash Bucky to make him into the Winter Soldier.
But why Bucky? Well it was all part of a ploy to get back at Captain America for making Karpov look bad. So he turned Steve's best friend into an assassin in service to the Russians during the Cold War and later Karpov's personal slave/bodyguard, just cause he got his feelings hurt during the war. Seems like a bit of an overreaction there Karpov.
In case you need any more convincing about Karpov's neuroses, here's what he had to say regarding his motivations about the Winter Soldier:
"I am getting old and I know there are only a few years left for me, so I wish to spend them watching this twisted creature defend my life. I almost feel sorry for him, as he tenses up whenever anyone approaches, waiting to take a bullet for me. It will never make up for what his people did to me in the war, how they shamed me in front of my own men, but even after all these years, it still makes me smile seeing Captain America’s partner serving mother Russia."
The link to the Soviet lead Department X also explains why Bucky is shown speaking Russian in Winter Soldier, rather than German as you might have expected since he was captured and brainwashed by the German scientist Zola during/after the events of The First Avenger.
So What Will Karpov's Role Be In Civil War?
Well because Civil War is already jam packed with all sorts of stuff going on and various characters showing up with their own stories it's pretty unlikely that he's going to be a major character in any sense of the word, but it does make it likely that we're going to find out at least some of the story behind how Bucky Barnes became the Winter Soldier in the first place.
In Winter Soldier we only got very brief glimpses of Bucky's past as he started to regain his memory; we see flashes of Zola calling him "Sergeant Barnes", the fall from the train, Steve shouting his name, the loss of his arm, the procedures that he underwent to rebuild his body and break down his mind, and his subsequent icing.
So rather than having a role in driving the modern narrative of Civil War it's likely that Karpov will appear in flashbacks in relation to the Winter Soldier's origins.
We already know that in the MCU it's Zola who takes the role of Karpov in retrieving and using Bucky, but there's still approximately 65 years of time he spent as the Winter Soldier yet to be clarified. And he's certainly been up to shenanigans during that time as we heard the tales from Black Widow / Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) during Winter Soldier.
It would make a lot of sense to tie in Karpov somewhere in this time frame. And there's also the Baron Zemo link still to be clarified as we're not quite sure what he's going to be up to in during Civil War, which makes it even more likely that we'll see some World War II era story creeping in around the contemporary narrative.
Regardless of exactly how it plays out, it's all getting pretty exciting in the run up now, as Captain America: Civil War is set to release in the US on the 6th May 2016.